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Divorce vs Annulment: What’s the Difference?

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A marriage can be legally dissolved in as little as a few days after a marriage ceremony to as much as 15 years or more into a civil union. The two ways a legal union can be undone are through a divorce or annulment. While there are similarities such as both being recognized by judicial court systems, a divorce significantly differs from an annulment.

Divorce vs. Annulment

Difference Between Divorce and Annulment

The main difference between a divorce and annulment is that a divorce separates the two parties involved in a valid marriage while an annulment legally deems a marriage invalid.

What is the short definition of divorce?

A marriage is a legal, civil union. A divorce legally dissolves such a union. Once a divorce is settled, each newly single partner is free to enter into a legal union with another person. The ability to remarry someone else is not uncommonly sought after by divorcing spouses.

What is the short definition of annulment?

Like the tip of a pencil to paper, an annulment erases a marriage, declaring it null and void. Annulments go so far as to deem the union as never legally binding. Despite the marriage being legally declared as nonexistent, records of the original marriage remain in court file systems.

What is the time limit to seek a divorce?

Either spouse may file for divorce at any time, whether it is after 2 or 25 years of marriage. However, Illinois divorce laws have residency requirements; one divorcing spouse must live in the state for at least 90 days in order to legally file for a divorce.

What is the time limit to seek an annulment?

Unlike seeking a divorce, pursuing an annulment has a time limit. In Illinois courts, the time limit is determined by what grounds the married couple have for the annulment. If the spouses do not meet the designated time limits for the grounds they are seeking, the marriage becomes legally valid.

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What are grounds for divorce in Illinois?

Married couples must present to the courts a valid reason to dissolve their union. Illinois divorce laws accept both no-fault and fault-based grounds. Under Illinois law, situations where the spouses live apart for two years with no hopes for reconciliation are considered no-fault grounds.

The fault-based grounds for divorce are many. When a partner is addicted to drugs, deserts the other spouse or commits domestic violence, divorce is a legal way out of harm’s way. Spouses who misrepresent themselves commit fraud, which is also legal grounds for divorce.

When one spouse connives his way into the marriage despite being married to another person, bigamy is the outcome and is a valid reason for divorce. A divorce may also be sought when one partner is forced into the union through coercion or threats.

Consuming alcohol or drugs destabilizes an individual, making him mentally incompetent to provide informed consent to legal events, like marriage. Similarly, mental illness can plague a person of the ability to make decisions. Both situations are grounds for divorce.

What are grounds for an annulment?Divorce-Law-Orland-Park-IL

Filing spouses should have reasonable grounds for an annulment. Several common grounds exist that drive married couples to seek an annulment. Each has a unique time limit within which couples seeking an annulment must adhere to in order to proceed and void their marriage.
Like grounds for divorce, valid reasons for an annulment include the inability to provide informed consent. Different from divorce, however, is the 90-day time limit an annulment requires. Once the divorcing spouse is aware of the grounds, he has three months to file for an annulment in Illinois.

While grounds for divorce include impotence, filing for an annulment based on these same grounds must be done within a certain period. Under Illinois law, a spouse may seek an annulment after one year from the time the petitioner becomes aware of the spouse’s inability to have sexual relations.

Bigamy is a reason to divorce and is also a good reason to seek an annulment. Interestingly, legal experts suggest that a civil union with a married person is not legally valid. To be safe, lawyers advise the betrayed party to go before the courts for a pronouncement of invalidity.

What is the process for divorce?

Illinois offers no-fault divorces, which means proving wrongdoing is unnecessary. Once an honorable reason for divorce is established, the petitioning spouse sends a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage to the other party. The defendant has 30 days from being served to respond. Here’s more information on the divorce process in Illinois.

What is the process for an annulment?

Unlike filing for a divorce, the annulment process starts with a Petition for Annulment. The petition is filed with the local circuit court. The defendant served with the form either contests it or agrees to it. A judge will then declare an annulment, if adequate grounds are presented.

Divorce or Annulment

A divorce and an annulment are two different beasts, but either can be successfully presented before the courts by a qualified divorce attorney from Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. Our family law attorneys stay up to date on all current Illinois laws in order to deliver our clients’ strongest cases to the courts.

Working with Our Divorce Attorneys

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Each divorce or annulment case comes with unique baggage. The legal team at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. is prepared to deliver undivided attention to inform our clients of their options and expertly handle each case. We provide experience with all issues surrounding divorce and annulment. We are prepared to fight for your rights when it comes to spousal support, domestic violence, division of property, and a host of related issues.

Spouses living in the community of Oak Lawn, Illinois, will receive powerful representation from the family law attorneys at Berry K. Tucker & Associates, Ltd. With 50 years of combined legal expertise and a wealth of knowledge about Illinois divorce law, our professional divorce attorneys will handle your case very carefully.

Get a Free Consultation

Interested in a free consultation? Give us a call at (708) 425-9530 or fill out a contact form to the right and we will get back to you right away. We look forward to working with you! 

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